Scientists have discovered that the Dead Sea pretty much vanished 120,000 years ago when the earth was as warm, or slightly warmer, than it is today, reports the BBC. It's in danger of doing the same today, this time helped along by populated areas taking the water that would normally flow into it. This could lead to momentous problems, as those Mideast populations rely on the salt lake for agriculture, fertilizer, and salt manufacturing.
Researchers drilled 770 feet into the Dead Sea's bed and discovered an ancient beach of rounded pebbles, indicating that the lake had dried out. "Lake dry-down happened 120,000 years ago without any human intervention," says one professor. "We're helping the lake level go down much sooner, and there are political implications because water is what causes a lot of wars and I'll just leave it at that." Another adds that the discovery offers perspective: "Look how the area can be dry and look at the way it can be recovered. We have to get ready for the future." (Read more Dead Sea stories.)